Creative Scotland released its 2016-17 Arts Strategy last week, which outlines their key direction over the next 2 years and beyond. The Touring Network’s CEO, Jo, has highlighted the general themes here which will give you an idea of the direction of thought.  
 
The strategy refers throughout to the current 10 year plan and the 5 ambitions which are: 
 
Excellence and Experimentation

Access

Place

Leadership and Workforce

Connection to the rest of the world


Understanding the role that art and artists play in our society is central to the strategy. How artists help us understand situations, keep us connected, and express and form societal views – and how we can continue to support new work, increase their visibility and fundamentally integrate art into our society. The headlines in the press last week highlighted how Creative Scotland intend to champion fairer pay for artists, which is to be supported, but is only one of the areas of their continued investment. Finding ways to support development of other important skills areas in the arts i.e. technicians, designers, marketers, etc is a key area for ongoing research. 
 
There is a heavy emphasis on how we continue to respond to the rapid changes in our environment, both societally and technologically, and how youth culture and issues around equality are at the heart of these changes.  Diversity, engagement and partnership working are core themes throughout the strategy which run through everything; diversity in the workplace and governance, diversity of culture and language, engagement with diverse communities, engagement via diverse social environments (prisons, schools, community centres, hospitals etc), and collaborative working across art forms and across sectors.

 
The strategy refers to the fact that we have increasing ethnic populations, ageing communities, families trapped in poverty cycles and previously invisible groups becoming more visible (i.e. transgender). The Highlands and Islands are recognised as having strong cultural identities which embrace, celebrate and seek inspiration from their location and heritage. The Gaelic language is mentioned as a living language that we need to protect and as such is an area of importance for Creative Scotland.  The work Creative Scotland wants to see should support and reflect these communities to ensure we are representing the society we live in. 
 
Creative Scotland will:
“Build on our commitment to creative learning, equalities, diversity and inclusion – with a view to extending and deepening the reach of the arts as relevant, connected and reflective of society and a rapidly changing world and ensuring the artistic community is at the heart of the wider debate on Scotland’s future.” 
 
Public funding was inevitably highlighted.  Reductions in local authority funding are increasing issues for many organisations, and making a strong case for the arts in order to maintain the investment from the main sources of government funding (Grant for Aid), is essential.   Adaptability and flexibility which respond to these challenges are identified as important but not at the risk of diluting what we do. Rather, we should aim to deepen and strengthen our core aims and engagement in order to make the arts accessible and integral to our society. 
 
Creative Scotland will:
“Establish a strong and up-to-date understanding of the different dynamics, operating contexts and business models that exist across the arts in Scotland – with a view to enabling the evolution and sustainability of new ways of working, including through partnerships and collaboration.” 


Touring in particular is mentioned as an area for concern within the sector, and is seen as a way of deepening access for communities within urban and rural settings.  

“Supporting geographic diversity is important in order to develop a national arts infrastructure that includes uniquely local organisations, and this applies across both urban and rural environments. Just as each geographically remote community in Scotland’s Highlands and Islands is highly individual, so are many communities within larger cities. Creative Scotland’s 10-year plan sets out our ambition for ‘places and quality of life to be transformed through imagination, ambition and an understanding of the potential of creativity’. We see the role of the arts as pivotal within urban and rural place-making across the nation. Artists and arts organisations are central to this work, contributing imaginatively to social, cultural and economic development.”

There are of course many more elements which make up the new Arts Strategy, but Jo has attempted to sum up the ones which she feels will be most relevant to Promoters within The Touring Network.

If you would like to read the entire document you can download it here: Creative Scotland Arts Strategy 2016-17

The Touring Network (Highlands & Islands)

Supporting live performance across the Highlands & Islands as part of a central, celebrated and indispensable part of the cultural life of Scotland.

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